Reader Expectations: A Conversation With Russell Newquist

I spoke with publisher, author, 4th Degree blackbelt (Shin Nagare Karate), Dojo owner, programmer, husband, and father of four Russell Newquist about reader expectations and how they influence how the reader perceives a work of fiction. (This is related to my post Predictability vs. Recognizability.) As with previous conversations we’ve had, we also talked about a lot of other things too. You can also watch the video on YouTube, if you prefer:

History Is Safe Because It’s Over

Some thoughts on historical fiction and our perspective on history. In particular, how knowing the outcome of history makes it hard to relate to the things historical people worried about, and how this colors our view of them and their actions. You can also watch this on YouTube:

Fraternizing with the Frank Friar

I had the great pleasure of talking for over an hour with The Frank Friar. Father Nicholas is a Carmelite friar who ministers in New York City. We talked about how he became a friar and a priest, and plenty of other things along the way. If you don’t subscribe to him on YouTube, I recommend doing so. He makes some really great videos reflecting on spirituality which I’ve gotten a lot from. You can of course also watch the conversation on YouTube:

Judging The Last Jedi By Its Title

You should never judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you should judge a movie by its title. In this episode I talk about why I judged The Last Jedi as not being worth seeing. This is somewhat a followup on my post Star Wars Movie Titles. You can also watch the video on YouTube:

What Atheists Would Actually Do If They Came to Believe in God

Apparently there’s a popular type of video for YouTube atheists to do where they answer the question, “If you became convinced that God exists, would you worship him?” I explain what they’d actually do if they came to believe in God. You can also view the video on YouTube:

The Value of Atheist Hacks: A Response to The Distributist

The Distributist made a video (which is very worth watching) called Atheist Hacks:

While I don’t disagree with anything he said, I do think he was missing one purpose that the atheist hacks serve within the skeptical community. So I made this video. You can watch it on YouTube instead of listening to it, if you prefer:

Heinlein’s Sexual Morality, Good & Evil in Novels, & More: A Conversation with Mr. John C. Wright

I had the pleasure of having the always-interesting science fiction author Mr. John C Wright (who blogs at on my show. It was a somewhat wide-ranging conversation, though it stuck (in my mind) surprisingly closely to the topic we set out to talk about throughout. It’s also available on YouTube:

How Joking About Evil Can Make You Evil

It’s popular to think of joking as completely harmless (probably in reaction to the people who can’t tell the difference between a joke and a serious philosophical position), but while joke are not the same thing as policy papers, that does not mean that they are always harmless. I take a look at the conditions in which joking about evil can predispose one toward evil. Of course you can watch it on YouTube instead:

Why You Can’t Have a Scientific Morality

I’ve occasionally seen references to using science to construct morality, so I discussed why this is impossible. (This is also a position which any who believes in scientisim—that the only source of knowledge is science—is forced into if they don’t want to hold morality and all associated human actions, such as law and criminal justice, to be completely irrational. They’re not going to want to do that because then they’d be holding that all the most important things in life are irrational.) And of course you can view this on YouTube:

Hollywood’s Flexible Morality: A Conversation with The Distributist

The distributist made a very interesting video on the sex abuse scandal in Hollywood:

Towards the end he brought up a very interesting point about Hollywood’s current anything-goes morality being replaced by a more strict feminist morality, and touched upon the idea that this might be self-defeating because a puritanical morality dominating would result in Hollywood ceasing to make the sort of movies from which it derives its power.

But this also brought up another very interesting point: if you leave aside the particulars of feminism, a sleazeball has a very strong interest in aligning himself with vocal proponents of morality because it gives him cover for his misdeeds. If the vocal proponents of morality (in this case, feminism) ceased to give the cover, the powerful sleazeballs would cease to have a reason to support the vocal proponents of that morality.  Or in short, it’s possible that the only reason Hollywood supports feminism as it does is as a cover for its sins and if feminism were to cease to provide that cover, Hollywood would cease to support feminism. It’s an interesting idea, and I invited the Distributist onto my channel to talk about it. I think it was an interesting conversation. You can also watch it on YouTube, if you prefer: